The Indian Bar Association (IBA) has filed public interest litigation seeking contempt of court proceedings against several political bigwigs in Maharashtra for certain alleged utterances pertaining to the judiciary, here on Wednesday.
The respondents named are — Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi Thackeray, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, state Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is the Working Executive Editor of ‘Saamana’ Group of publications, Vivek Kadam, publisher and others.
IBA Working President Ishwarlal S. Agarwal contended that the respondents are involved in a campaign to scandalise the entire judicial system only because judgements rendered by the courts do not suit them.
“Their plans to keep their opponents in jail or to cause them harassment by misuse of power and police machinery are failed due to the orders of this Court and the Supreme Court,” Agarwal added.
The plea said that on February 8, 2021, Raut had published an edit in the ‘Saamana’, containing “many sarcastic, filthy, scandalous, derogatory and highly defamatory statements” seeking to convey a public impression of how “many judges are acting as an agent of the political parties”.
“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the judiciary of the country is under the heel (shoes) of the ruling party,” said the PIL, quoting the ‘Saamana’ edit.
Owing to such statements by the respondents, “the honest judges are under obvious tremendous pressure that there every order being scanned” and defamed by the (respondents) if they pass any order against the state or in favour of any Bharatiya Janata Party leader even if his case is legally sound and he is honest,” said the PIL.
Referring to another article by Raut in December 2020 in which he alleged that the judiciary is under the control of the Central government and acting to protect only those who are ‘pro-government’, or helped only its ‘blue-eyed boys’ and the court refused to protect the personal liberty of the citizen who are against the Centre.
In order to avoid an onslaught, attack on the judges and judiciary in general, and to ensure that the foundation of an impartial and independent judiciary is not shaken or eroded in the public minds, the PIL sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the respondents.
The PIL urged suo moto cognizance of contempt committed by the respondents which can attract a maximum punishment of six months simple jail term and/or fine, to cancel the permission (registration) of ‘Saamana’ Group of newspapers, and those holding Constitutional posts should be removed.
Agarwal, 49, further said that the petition — filed through Advocate Abhishek N. Mishra — should be treated as his ‘dying declaration’ and sought security for himself, his lawyers and witnesses.